Parliament Updates

Zali Steggall speaks in support of Children's Mental Health

30 November 2023

I rise to speak today on the Our Kids Count campaign by Smiling Mind. This campaign has collected over 11,000 signatures in support of a federal minister and calling for a transformation in how we support children's mental health and wellbeing. We need a federal children's minister to deal with that. Seventy per cent of presentations to paediatricians in Australia are for mental health concerns. More than half of children experiencing mental health challenges don't get professional help. Our children's mental health and wellbeing are deteriorating at alarming rates. We know we have a mental health crisis, but prevention and early intervention present an opportunity to turn the tide around. A federal children's minister can put the needed energy into how we deal with child health, development, learning and wellbeing, including mental wellbeing. This will send a signal that child wellbeing is a national priority in Australia.

We also need a children's rights act passed at federal level. There are currently eight ministers across four portfolios relating to children, and we have 28 different pieces of legislation that deal with children. Accordingly, we need to think differently about how we provide greater coherence to all legislation that touches on the health, wellbeing and care of our children.